911 center in Osceola County understaffed



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - The workers inside the 911 communications center in Osceola County face life or death situations every day, but now the center is facing a crisis of its own: a shortage of 911 dispatchers.

When it's fully staffed the county employs 77 dispatchers, but right now it only has 65.

Last year they handled more than 390,000 calls for police, fire, rescue and animal control.

That’s more than 1,000 calls a day.

Channel 9’s Ryan Hughes asked officials if any calls go unanswered because of the shortage.

“There should be no citizen concern about calls not being answered,” said Modesty Adams, the Communications Center manager.

Adams prefers to grasp the gratification that comes from a job that can be difficult.

“We're in the trenches with them until we hear them and we hear the field personnel in the background and we get that relief,” she said. “When we finally get someone there then it's good for us.”

Hughes also spoke to a woman who has been taking calls at the center for 20 years, in a business that sees workers come and go quickly due to long hours and stress.

“Of course we need good, solid people to come work with us,” 911 dispatcher Wendy Lewis said.

The county is looking to hire 12 qualified dispatchers who can work 12-hour shifts, holidays and weekends.

Osceola County pays nearly $29,000 a year, making it one of highest paying counties in Central Florida.